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June 24, 2022

Leal unveils farm-to-table restaurant coming to Morgan Hill

MOHI Farm expected to open this fall

South Valley hospitality and restaurant developer Frank Leal last week unveiled MOHI Farm, his newest dining concept on tap for downtown Morgan Hill that will offer farm-to-table eating with ingredients produced by local and other nearby growers.

The restaurant is located at the new Sunsweet complex on East Third Street. Leal and his staff—along with city officials and site developers—hosted a sneak preview of MOHI Farm June 9 for a select audience. The restaurant is currently slated to open to the public this fall.

At the unveiling, Leal said the restaurant’s cooking staff and menu will utilize the nearby Depot Street farmers’ market for the freshest produce. MOHI Farm will also use ingredients directly from other local farms—including Leal’s four-acre growing plot in Morgan Hill—as well as herbs grown in decorative planters just outside the restaurant’s front doors.

“I’m growing mint in my planters,” Leal said at the June 9 sneak preview. “What we’re focusing on is farm-to-table. It’s fresh, it’s basically a local product that we want to change with the seasons. The focus is keeping it fresh, affordable and sustainable.”

Potential menu items include everything from flatbreads and dosas to agua frescas and cocktails, all served in a “bright, fast-casual atmosphere,” says a press release about the new restaurant. Customers will be able to dine in or order to go, and the restaurant will offer a small retail section for fresh, in-season produce.

Chef Aidan Ocampo and his culinary team prepared items for the June 9 preview, and will lead MOHI Farm’s kitchen staff.

Morgan Hill cherry farmer Chris Borello is one of the local growers who plans to supply MOHI Farm with fresh fruit for cocktails and other dishes. Borello at the June 9 unveiling praised the new restaurant’s concept and how it complements the downtown community that city officials have fostered in recent years with redevelopment efforts.

“The city, for the last 15 years, has been striving to create something special down here and it’s succeeding,” Borello said. “As a farmer, being able to partner with people like Frank is super exciting.”

Morgan Hill city officials—including Mayor Rich Constantine and City Councilmember Yvonne Martinez Beltran—also attended the June 9 preview of MOHI Farm. City Hall and Leal largely share a vision of downtown Morgan Hill as a family-friendly destination that is safe for pedestrians and cyclists, inviting locals and drawing visitors from out of town.

In recent years, Leal has brought his brand of hospitality and service to Morgan Hill with his acquisition and development of the Granada Theater and MOHI Social restaurant. The latter of these is located at the site of Leal’s partially built Granada Hotel, and was created as an alternate use shortly after the pandemic led to increased demand for outdoor dining and a shortage of financing for hotel construction.

MOHI Farm will complement not only the greater downtown, but also its smaller Third Street neighborhood of small businesses and residences, city officials said.

“The city’s vision for downtown is a gathering place, a connecting force, the social and activity heart of Morgan Hill,” said Assistant City Manager Edith Ramirez. “A farm-to-table restaurant will bring perfect synergy to the farmers market, the Railroad Playground and OneYoga—bringing to life the Downtown Specific Plan’s vision for Third Street.”

Leal is also the owner of the Willow Heights mansion event center in west Morgan Hill; MOHI winery off Uvas Road; and The Grove restaurant in Hollister.

The Sunsweet project on Third Street was developed by Republican Urban Properties in partnership with Morgan Hill-based Glenrock Builders. The development includes 83 residential apartment units, plus commercial spaces on the ground floor.

“It is always rewarding to see an ambitious project like this come to life – especially one that combines form and function so perfectly,” Republic CEO Michael Van Every said.

June 9 sneak preview. Contributed photo.
June 9 sneak preview. Contributed photo.
June 9 sneak preview. Contributed photo.

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